Speaker Pelosi. Thank you, Madam Speaker.
I thank the gentlewoman for yielding. Madam Chair, thank you for your patriotic leadership on the House Administration Committee and your invaluable service as a Member – and leadership as a Member of the Select Committee on January 6th. I thank you for yielding, but I more importantly thank you for bringing this important legislation to the Floor. I salute your leadership and that of Congresswoman Liz Cheney, Vice Chair of the January 6th Committee, a principled and courageous voice for freedom in our country. This legislation is a manifestation of their courage, their patriotism, their determination and our mission to save American democracy. Thank you, Chairwoman Lofgren. Thank you, Vice Chair Cheney.
Madam Speaker, we are the – really the beneficiaries of such greatness in our country’s history. Our Founders – Thomas Paine said the times had found us – found them to declare independence, to fight a war for independence against the greatest naval power that existed at the time. To win that war, under the leadership of our great patriarch, seen there, George Washington, and then to write our founding documents. Thank God they made them amendable, so that we could ever have expanding freedom in our country. And one of their documents, early documents, the Declaration of Independence, has been called by some the greatest document of the millennium, of 1,000 years.
Nearly – since – some years later, the unity, the Union was under threat. Abraham Lincoln – this is long before he was President – Abraham Lincoln delivered a stark warning about the state of our Union. Speaking in Springfield in 1839, more than two decades before the Civil War, he diagnosed a dangerous erosion of our democracy. He said this: ‘They were pillars of the temple of liberty,’ Lincoln said, referring to the generations of Americans who fought for independence and served of – living proof of the importance of democracy. He continued: ‘Now that they have crumbled away, that temple must fall, unless we, their descendants, supply their places with other pillars.’ His words ring just as true today as we confront a dire threat to our democracy and a duty to supply new pillars to preserve it.
On January 6, 2021, an insurrection erupted at the Capitol, seeking to nullify the results of a free and fair election. This was a direct assault, not only on the Capitol, but on our Constitution, on the rule of law and on democracy itself. A direct assault on the Constitution because the Constitution said that day, that the Congress would, again, certify the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, per the Constitution, by presenting the Electoral College vote. And so, that was an assault on the Constitution. That was that day. It wasn’t just any day. It was the day that the Constitution was supposed to be honored.
Now, we have a solemn duty to ensure that future efforts to undermine elections cannot succeed. That’s why the House established the Select Committee on January 6th: to find the truth of the attack and ensure that it could never happen again. And since then, there have been attempts across the country to nullify future elections. That is why, today, we are taking an historic and bipartisan legislative action to safeguard the integrity of future presidential elections.
The Presidential Election Reform Act takes four necessary steps. First, the bill reaffirms, reaffirms that under the Constitution, the Vice President has no authority to reject a slate of electors or delay the count in any way. This was the heart of the former President’s illegal, false electoral scheme.
Secondly, our bill direct – the bill directly limits the type of objections to only those outlined in the Constitution, which can be raised during certification. Just can’t raise any and all – those that are allowed in the Constitution. And all objections would require one third of each Chamber to be entertained and a majority to be sustained.
Third, our bill requires governors to transmit lawful election results to Congress. Lawful election results to Congress and – or be compelled to by a federal court. Under this proposal, no rogue governor can unlawfully subvert the will of the people. The will of the people, the heart of a democracy, expressed in the democratic electoral process.
And fourth, our bill makes crystal clear that states cannot change the rules governing an election after the election has occurred. Did you hear that? Cannot change the rules governing an election after the election has occurred. Preventing radical state legislators from attempting to nullify the election. I keep using that word: ‘nullify.’
These changes are imperative right now. Emboldened by January 6th, MAGA politicians are waging a sinister campaign across the country to subvert our future elections. Peddling the Big Lie: ‘the 2020 election was stolen.’ Assembling an army of operatives to intimidate voters at the polls and poll workers as well. And even threatening to reverse results for which they disagree. Wait a minute. We’re talking about a democracy. Threatening to reverse results for which they disagree?
Let me be clear: this is a kitchen table issue for families. And we must ensure that this anti-democratic plot cannot succeed. It’s a kitchen table issue because denying the American people their fundamental freedom to choose their own leaders denies them their voice in the policies we pursue. And those policies can make a tremendous difference in their everyday lives. On top of which, we have a responsibility, we take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
This legislation is in furtherance of honoring that oath of office. So that our children, our grandchildren, future generations know that they live in a great democracy that cannot be undermined for political reasons.
Madam Speaker, every Member knows that January 6th was an attempt to subvert democracy. But many across the aisle refuse to admit the truth. They refused to admit the truth that very night with blood on the Floor, glass on the Floor and all the rest. We came in to honor our Constitutional responsibility. Overwhelmingly, others on the other side of the aisle voted not to accept the results of the people in the election. Now House Republican leaders are whipping against this necessary measure. To all those who oppose this legislation, I ask you: How could anyone vote against free and fair elections? A cornerstone of our Constitution. How could anyone vote against our Founders’ vision, placing power in the hands of the people? How could anyone vote against their own constituents, allowing radical politicians to rip away their say in our democracy?
Decades after Lincoln’s stark warning, the future he foretold – a crumbling of the pillars of democracy – came to pass with the Civil War. And one year into the horror and devastation, President Lincoln called on the Congress to come together to save the Union. In his message, he wrote – this is – now he’s President: ‘We shall nobly save or merely lose the last, best hope on Earth. We hold the power and bear the responsibility.’ Lincoln. ‘We shall nobly save or merely lose the last, best hope of Earth. We hold the power and bear the responsibility.’
Today, American democracy – the last, best hope of Earth – is again in grave danger, and its state is in our hands. So I implore every Member to heed Lincoln’s words, to stand up for the rule of law and our Constitution. And in doing so, we pass on a vibrant democracy for generations to come. America: the beacon of hope in the world. This building: a symbol, a temple of democracy – synonymous with freedom and democracy through the world – which was assaulted. But we must correct. And with that, I urge a resounding bipartisan ‘aye’ vote on the Presidential Election Reform Act, in gratitude to Madam Chair, Zoe Lofgren, Chair of the House Administration Committee and Member of the January 6th Committee, and our very distinguished Vice Chair of the January 6th Committee. Thank you for your patriotism, thank you for your leadership, thank you for your courage. I urge an ‘aye’ vote and yield back the balance of my time. Thank you.
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